For the second year in a row, a player banished from Eddie Jones’ England team has been named Gallagher Premiership player of the year.
Saracens flanker Ben Earl, who has not played a Test match in over 15 months, has been crowned the best performance in this season’s tournament, beating out Harlequins centre André Esterhuizen.
Earl was also picked ahead of Leicester’s Julian Montoya and former England duo George Ford and Danny Care, becoming the latest national squad outsider to win the prize.
In recent years, Sam Simmonds, Jack Willis, and Danny Cipriani have all been named domestic player of the year despite failing to make the England starting XV.
The pacy, explosive Earl has had a fantastic season, topping the league tackle stats while also scoring eight tries and guiding Sarries to second place in the table.
He was also impressive on loan at Bristol City last season, but his most recent England cap came off the bench in Ireland in March 2021.
With two tense Premiership semi-finals on the horizon this weekend, Leicester’s Steve Borthwick has been named director of rugby, sponsored by London Pride, for leading the Tigers to the top of the regular season standings.
Henry Arundell, the intriguing young back for London Irish, has now received additional recognition as the Land Rover Discovery of the Season.
Meanwhile, Saracens’ England hooker Jamie George believes he and his teammates are eager to return to a Twickenham final for the first time in three years.
“It’s something we’ve been thinking about for the last 18 months or so,” George added, recalling Saracens’ relegation to the Championship for exceeding the pay ceiling. “It’s where we want to be, where we feel most at ease, and it often brings out the best in us.”
George also claims that the club’s time in the Championship taught him not to take his job for granted. “There were undoubtedly occasions throughout the season I don’t want to come out as arrogant, but you’re nearly on autopilot.
“You rely on the people around you and believe that things will just happen. It very likely entered my head, and I’m sorry I allowed it to happen. I’ll make certain that it never happens again.
“The message from the start of this week was ‘We don’t need to speak, we know what the motivation is.’ The best memories I have playing for this team are winning Premiership and European finals, the time in the changing room, all that stuff. That’s what makes this team really special. Of course we’d like to replicate those times.”
Sam Wainwright of the Saracens has been added to Wales’ squad for the summer tour to South Africa in lieu of Dragons forward Leon Brown, who has a nerve injury.